No one said it’d be easy – Oh, yes they did…..
Access to single market 'not on sale'.
The UK will not be able to buy access to the single market after it leaves the EU, says one of the most senior UK officials to have worked in Brussels. Jonathan Faull, who retired last week, said that access to the single market "is not something that's on sale". He also warned the UK should not assume it can broker a deal with Angela Merkel if she wins re-election as German chancellor. Theresa May plans to trigger the Brexit negotiations by the end of March. But Mr Faull said that Britain has one important card to play in the EU negotiations - co-operation on European defence. The warnings by Mr Faull, who served in the European Commission for 38 years, come as the government scrambles to assemble its Brexit negotiating team in the wake of the resignation of the UK's EU ambassador, Sir Ivan Rogers. He is to be replaced by Sir Tim Barrow, a former UK ambassador to Moscow. In his interview with BBC Newsnight, Mr Faull cast doubt about an idea, which is being promoted by senior Whitehall officials, that the UK could be pay for access to the EU's single market - in the same way that Norway currently does, despite not being a member of the EU. David Davis, the Brexit secretary, confirmed last month that the government was considering the idea. Mr Faull said: "Can you buy access to the single market? It's not something that's on sale in that way. I find that rather extraordinary." The former European Commission official pointed out that Norway is bound by two core rules of the EU - accepting the free movement of people and abiding by the European Court of Justice. Theresa May has indicated that she would like to have some access to the single market. But the prime minister is to confirm in a speech later this month that the UK will have two fundamental red lines in its Brexit negotiations - control of its borders and freedom from the ECJ.
Tory donor threatens to stop funding over Brexit plans.
A major Tory donor has warned that he will stop funding the party if Theresa May's Brexit plans involve the UK coming out of the single market. Sir Andrew Cook, who has donated more than £1.2m to the party, told The Times the country could "sleepwalk to disaster" if it made such a move. The engineering firm chairman said at least one of his factories was almost "entirely dependent" on access to it. Sir Andrew backed the Remain campaign in the EU referendum. He told the newspaper that the "economic arguments of staying in the single market are overwhelming" and it would be a "catastrophe" if the country left. "It is very difficult to make a political donation to a party when, although I support it ideologically, I do not believe that my interests and my ideology are ad idem with the principal Brexiteers," he said. Theresa May has insisted that she wants firms to have the "maximum freedom to trade with and operate in the single market".
Pound falls on May's Brexit comments.
The value of the pound has fallen to a two-month low against major currencies after Prime Minister Theresa May signalled the UK would pursue a so-called "hard Brexit" from the EU. Sterling fell about 1% across the board. The only currency against which it gained ground was the Turkish lira. The Prime Minister told Sky News on Sunday that she wanted the best possible deal for leaving the EU. However, she dismissed the idea that the UK could "keep bits of membership". She added: "We're leaving. We're coming out. We're not going to be a member of the EU any longer." Commentators interpreted this as meaning that Mrs May would not seek to keep the UK in the EU's single market, with radical consequences for the country's economy. By Monday evening, the pound was down 1.05% against the dollar at $1.2155, while against the euro, it was 1.41% lower at €1.1501. "Sterling is on the back foot on Monday after Theresa May's comments were taken as a sign the UK government would prioritise immigration controls over single market access," said Neil Wilson, senior market analyst at ETX Capital. "Domestic populist politics trumps the trade card for now, it seems, and that is weighing on the pound." Mr Wilson predicted "more volatility" in the sterling exchange rate, adding that it could easily "bounce back" as the tone of political discourse shifted. HSBC currency strategist Dominic Bunning agreed: "[Mrs] May saying that it's not about keeping 'bits' of the EU suggests it's not going to be about keeping access to the single market”.
Hammond: No decision yet on single market.
Britain has not made any decision on whether or not to stay in the European single market after Brexit, says the UK Chancellor, Philip Hammond. The chancellor made his comments in an interview with the Irish broadcaster RTE. "We haven't made any decision on which structures would best support our aspirations," he said. "Whether it is being in or out of the customs union, in or out of the single market," he added. His comments came just a day after the Prime Minister, Theresa May, appeared to downplay the importance of the UK retaining any residual membership privileges from the European Union's single economic market. Mr Hammond rejected the idea that the Brexit process had been badly handled so far, pointing out that it had barely started and that the UK government was preparing for a complex negotiation that would start in earnest later this Spring. He did though state that he wanted, in an ideal world, to have a deal with the rest of the EU agreed in just over two years' time. "If necessary we will have to discuss what the interim period should look like between Britain leaving the European Union and delivering those long term arrangements if we can't get them in place by April 2019," he said. "But our first objective will clearly be to try to get everything negotiated and completed by April 2019."
All details above from BBC News website.
[While Europe seems to be getting its act together with the election of a Centrist French President and with Merkel’s party doing well in Germany in the UK itself few politicians seem to want to talk about Brexit despite it being THE issue in the upcoming election in June. Instead both major parties are essentially promising the earth with jam on it – tomorrow (of course) and only after they’ve successfully navigated through the Brexit minefield and brought us all singing and dancing into the uplands of freedom and prosperity. In other words not in our lifetimes…… As usual, having become quite a tradition in my house, I shall be staying up into the early hours of June 9th to watch how these particular dominoes fall. No doubt I shall be disappoint to witness us recommit to economic suicide but I feel that I need to be there to see us do it. As car crashes go this will be an impressive pile-up. I wouldn’t miss it for the world.]